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Abels & Annes, P.C. Chicago Injury Blog

Who Pays Medical Bills After a Car Accident?

car accident lawyer in chicago illinoisAccording to the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT), more than 67,000 crashes on Illinois roads resulted in injuries in just one year. In severe car accidents, medical bills often pile up for those who are injured. This creates undue stress and economic uncertainty for many accident victims and their families; those who suffer injuries often cannot work, at least in the short-term. In the most extreme cases, some families may need to file bankruptcy, lose their homes in foreclosure, amass debt, and sometimes do not have enough money to cover even basic needs.

You are responsible for paying all medical bills you receive that are related to the treatment of injuries sustained in a car accident. Yet, the source of the funds you use to pay your medical bills will vary based on the circumstances of your accident, your insurance coverage, and the coverage of the other driver.

If you have sustained injuries in a car accident in Illinois as a result of another party’s careless actions, it’s in your best interest to consult with an experienced Illinois car accident attorney. Below, we provide an overview of Illinois insurance requirements and information about who pays medical bills in different insurance coverage scenarios.

Illinois Auto Insurance Requirements

Illinois has a fault-based insurance system, which means the party who causes an accident is liable for property damage and injuries related to the accident. Under Illinois law, all drivers must meet minimum insurance requirements. Coverage that applies to medical bills falls under bodily injury coverage.

Bodily Injury Liability Coverage (BIL)

Bodily injury liability pays for costs related to the injury or death of a driver or occupant in another vehicle or a pedestrian. In some cases, BIL also covers passengers in your car, if they are not a member of your household. Illinois law requires that drivers carry at least $25,000 per person in bodily injury liability coverage and a total of $50,000 per accident. Additionally, Illinois drivers must carry a minimum of $20,000 in property damage coverage.

Uninsured Motorist Coverage (UM)

Uninsured motorist insurance coverage is similar to bodily injury coverage to the extent that it covers medical bills after a car accident. UM coverage kicks in when an uninsured driver causes your car accident. Illinois drivers must carry a minimum of $25,000 in uninsured motorist coverage per person $50,000 per accident.

Underinsured Motorist Coverage (UIM)

Illinois underinsured motorist insurance covers the gap in insurance that occurs when the at-fault driver does not have high enough insurance limits to cover the bodily injury or death in the accident they caused. Illinois only requires UIM coverage when policyholders purchase higher limits of uninsured motorist (UM) coverage.

Who Pays When You Don’t Have Car Insurance?

If you did not cause the accident, the at-fault driver’s BIL coverage will kick in to cover your medical bills up to their policy limit. Keep in mind that even if insurance covers your medical bills, you likely will have to wait months before you see a penny of reimbursement. Make sure to keep your medical providers informed of your situation, so they do not send your account to a collection agency.

Who Pays Your Medical Bills When the at-Fault Driver Has No Insurance?

If you are in a car accident with a driver who isn’t insured or doesn’t have enough insurance, you will initially have to pay all of your medical bills. Fortunately, Illinois requires uninsured motorist coverage. If you are compliant, you can file a claim under your UM coverage to receive compensation for your medical bills up to your policy limit.

Once you have met or exceeded your UM coverage limits, your lawyer will have to negotiate with your medical providers and work to reduce your medical bills accordingly. This typically includes using the Illinois Health Care Services Lien Act (770 ILCS 23/). Here, hospitals and doctors can only collect certain percentages of your settlement.

Uninsured motorist coverage also covers hit-and-run accidents. Hopefully, if an at-fault driver leaves the scene of an accident, law enforcement can track him or her down. This, however, is not usually the case, so your UM coverage will kick in to cover your medical bills up to your policy limit.

Who Pays When You Have Exceeded Auto Insurance Coverage Limits?

A wide array of expenses falls under the umbrella of car accident-related medical bills. An ambulance ride, emergency department visit, and a short stay in the hospital can easily cost tens of thousands of dollars. If you have suffered multiple traumas and severe injuries, expensive and lengthy hospitalization is likely. Medical bills also include surgery and accompanying costs, diagnostics, lab testing, rehabilitation, aftercare, and medication. Severe injuries can easily lead to medical bills totaling well into six figures, which can quickly exceed BIL and UM policy coverage limits.

You can rely on your health insurance, Medicaid, or Medicare to cover some costs for specific things, but sometimes you have to exhaust all other insurance alternatives before health insurance will start paying. After you have met or exceeded your health insurance limits, you could be asked to pay your medical bills out-of-pocket.

For some, this could mean amassing credit card debt, draining bank accounts, and selling personal items to earn more money. However, for those smart enough to work with an experienced accident lawyer, it means having that attorney negotiate your medical bills. There are no guarantees, but typically medical providers will want some portion of a bill paid over an unrealistic debt collection, and they will often settle.

If you were in a severe car accident that led to a stack of medical bills, you can get the help you need by consulting an experienced car accident attorney. An auto accident lawyer can help get the compensation they need and deserve for their medical bills. An attorney can investigate the facts of the case, gather necessary evidence, and build the strongest case possible against the at-fault party.

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